Tree Tops Golf curates competitive fun and practice at a sprawling facility that encompasses a driving range, a miniature golf course, and batting cages. Airborne golf shots take flight at the driving range, where grass tees appeal to those who prefer a natural feel and artificial hitting mats cater to prima donna pitching wedges that demand a perfect lie every time.
A canopy of vibrant palms forms cool shadows over the 18-hole mini-golf course as putters tap orbs across a winding circuit of artificial turf lined with brick rails and rocky outcrops. Two Iron Mike pitching machines lob high-arching, slow-pitch softballs in two batting cages, helping batters to prepare for their next opportunity to ruin a water-balloon-toss competition.
Deer Island Country Club's 18-hole course is covered in course architect Joe Lee's fingerprints?or, more accurately, his finger-style bunkers. The renowned designer's signature sandtraps?known for their sinuous shapes that spread into multiple "fingers"?are showcased throughout the course, clutching the edges of fairways and greens, ready to ensnare golfers' misfires or speeding golf carts.
Sometimes, however, finding a sandtrap is a blessing in disguise, as many bunkers serve as a final collection area between dry land and the lakes and wetlands that come into play on nearly every hole. Though hazardous to golfers or caddies without life jackets, the wetlands sustain a bustling ecosystem that includes alligators, bobcats, and even a family of six bald eagles, which dwells in the pine trees that line the 18th hole.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course designed by Joe Lee * Length of 6,852 yards from the tips * Course rating of 73.8 from the tips * Slope rating of 133 from the tips * Six tee options * Scorecard
In 2007, Mark Panigoni sustained a back injury for which he would have to undergo three surgeries. In the healing process, the PGA-certified pro had to completely reconstruct his golf swing to compensate for his back trouble and, incredibly, Mark actually became a better golfer. The adjustment he made was to keep his weight shifted on his front leg, and he soon discovered that there was a name for such a technique: the Stack-and-Tilt swing.
Today, Mark passes on his hard-won swing wisdom to golfers in lessons that include video swing analysis and web-based lesson overviews that clients can access after the lessons. Despite his own affinity for the Stack-and-Tilt method, Mark tailors his teaching to golfers of all ages, abilities, and swing types. Chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists have all recommended Mark to golfers who have also struggled with back pain.
Designed by renowned course architect Pete Dye in 1995, Black Bear Golf Club's 18-hole, par 72 layout showcases all the calling cards of a masterfully crafted golf course. With mounded fairways, tight landing zones, and more than 120 natural sand traps, the course—which stretches more than 7,000 yards from the tips—presents a traditional links-style layout with the favorable climate and alligator forecaddies native to Central Florida. Dye's affinity for dramatic finishing holes comes into play throughout the course. A well-bunkered, tree-lined par 4, the 9th hole is the course's second-hardest, and the 18th hole is the course's most difficult, demanding that golfers finish strong by overcoming an obscured tee shot on their way to a green guarded by a pond. A challenge for golfers of all skill levels, Black Bear has hosted multiple U.S. Amateur and Canadian Tour events.
Fostering practice as well as on-course play, Black Bear boasts a grass tee, a double-ended driving range, and a 40,000-square-foot short-game-practice area. With a menu of casual grill fare, The Bear's Den invites golfers to unwind after their days at the links and test out their divot tools' utility as fill-ins for forks.
Located near a handful of glittery lakes, Sanctuary Ridge Golf Club provides a sporting oasis of natural splendor for budding or fully bloomed course crusaders. Duos of friends or resigned enemies can toss golf-ball tenderizers into the back of the rental cart and cruise all 7,005 yards of the 18-hole course, which boasts five tees of varying distances to challenge players of all ilk. Considerable elevation changes throughout the par 71 golf garden keeps guests on their tippy toes, and no fairway runs up against a parallel fairway, except in the parallel universe, which is full of parallel fairways and people that understand the New Yorker comic strips. As golfers traverse the pastoral playgrounds, they will also come up against sinister sand traps and roughs, as well as Blacks Lake, which feasts on a strict golf-ball diet.